June 5, 2014
Is every official in New York corrupt? Surely it’s fair to wonder, given new accusations that Charles Hynes stole $219,000 from an account he oversaw.
Hynes, remember, wasn’t just any official. He was Brooklyn’s DA — the guy elected to prosecute theft, not commit it.
Yet a city Department of Investigation probe found evidence he illegally used funds seized from criminals for personal political consulting.
The same probe also found Hynes used office staff and e-mail resources for his campaign. And it accuses a state judge, Barry Kamins, of improperly engaging in political activity by advising Hynes in his campaign.
For years, New Yorkers have watched scores of their pols marched off to jail.
Just this week, former state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith began his bribery trial. The Democratic leader who came after Smith, John Sampson, is awaiting trial. A Republican before him, Joe Bruno, just ended one, though he managed to beat the rap.
The Hynes tragedy is compounded by his promising start.
In earlier days, he earned wide respect as a special prosecutor in the ’70s nursing-home scandal and the racially charged Howard Beach case, as a crusader against Medicaid fraud, as a city fire commissioner and as a member of the state Commission of Investigation.
More recently, the Brooklyn DA’s office under his leadership has faced charges of having obtained a number of wrongful convictions and giving a pass to sex-offenders in the Hasidic community.
For the 79-year-old Hynes, it’s a sad finish. But for New Yorkers, it’s worse. After all, if even our prosecutors are corrupt, whom can we trust?